real life

"I was the victim of same-sex domestic violence. And I am lucky to be alive."

I thought, “That stuff never happens to women like me.” I was wrong.

Warning: this item deals with domestic abuse and may be distressing for some readers.

The author of this post is known to Mamamia, but has chosen to remain anonymous. 

“That stuff never happens to women like me”. I remember saying this to myself when I was a happy suburban Canberra teenager.

That memory played on a loop in my head whilst I sat with a social worker who told me that my intimate partner violence situation wasn’t severe enough, despite the bruises… I was so in shock, I almost laughed.

For four long years of my life, I was in a relationship with an abusive alcoholic. I was regularly punched and kicked. I had plates and glasses thrown at me. I was threatened with knives. One minute, my partner would be openly cheating on me, the next minute I’d be ‘revenge raped’ just for looking at someone else.

I was completely estranged from my own wonderful family, instead visiting my partner’s family who were dysfunctional and violent themselves. I didn’t want to be part of a family who all treated each other the same way that my partner treated me, but I was trapped. After several attempts to leave, I finally told a dear friend what was going on. That friend took me in, letting me sleep on his sofa for as long as it took me to get myself organised to be safe in a new home. How lucky I am to have such good friends.

same-sex domestic violence
“For four long years of my life, I was in a relationship with an abusive alcoholic.” Image via istock.

So I guess this sounds like a whole lot of other similar stories you might have read recently. You’d be right about that. After all, there’s an epidemic of domestic abuse happening in Australia at the moment.

Thanks to Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, there is finally a conversation happening in the public arena, which hopefully will lead to some action.

But my story is different again. The partner who abused me was a woman.

I know what you’re thinking. Women aren’t abusive! Women aren’t violent! How can a woman rape without a dick? How do you tell who is the abuser and who is the victim? I am telling you right now, women can be violent, some women are abusive, any sexual activity for which you do not give consent is rape, and yes, I know I was a victim, not an abuser.

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More: The domestic violence that no-one talks about. 

What I suffered at the hands of a woman was every bit as awful as the abuse that a heterosexual woman might have suffered from a male partner.

But for women like me, everything is just that much worse. At the time when I was at my most vulnerable and damaged, when I needed the most help, police, social workers and counsellors simply didn’t believe me. I was told that females were only abused by males, that an AVO was simply not a possibility, that emergency accommodation wasn’t available.

Everywhere I turned, I was met with disbelief and ridicule, which made me feel even more marginalised and isolated. So I stopped seeking help. I retreated completely and simply endured the violence and psychological manipulation. I am lucky to be alive.

Jealousy and controlling behaviour is NOT restricted to heterosexual relationships.

It’s many years later now but still every day, the memories are fresh and painful.

The current conversation about domestic abuse is constant and high profile, which is a very good thing. But as I watch the headlines scroll by on my various social media feeds, Violence Against Women, Counting Dead Women, Domestic Violence is a Men’s Issue, White Ribbon Day, I am painfully aware of how my own personal experience is not reflected in the media.

I haven’t the courage to come out as a victim even to my friends, for the minute that I dare bring up issues of gender inequity in IPV reportage, I get the book thrown at me. The majority of cases are male-to-female violence, so people say that’s what matters most and the way to fix it is to educate boys and men in society.

WATCH: Dennis’ story of same-sex domestic abuse.

People also assume that when I speak about gender that I must be speaking of female-to-male violence and that I’m an ally to men’s rights groups, which is untrue.

same-sex domestic violence
“It’s many years later now but still every day, the memories are fresh and painful.” Image via istock.

Think of how many more victims to whom you might give the courage to reach out, simply by taking the heteronormative language out of your conversation. I ask you all to remember my experience, the four long years of abuse I suffered, when you next join in a conversation about domestic abuse.

Have you ever been a victim of same-sex partner violence?

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

You can also visit Rightnow.acon.org.au for assistance.

 

Want more? Try:

He threatened to kill her. He shot her in the head. But he’s not guilty of her murder.

More than $70,000 raised after ACT mum was murdered one week after giving birth.

When a woman is killed by a man she loved, Australia continues to turn away.

Tags: lifestyle , health-and-wellbeing , women
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